10 tips for a stress-free Christmas

10 tips for a stress-free Christmas

Make sure the festive season goes with a swing by getting all your preparation done on your computer

If the words ‘happy Christmas’ send a shiver down your spine, you'll be familiar with the stress that tends to accompany the festive period. But you can take the heat off with some careful online planning. Here's how...

1. Keeping in touch

Christmas is all about family but it's not always possible to have your nearest and dearest with you on the day. If you've got friends and relatives spread far and wide, a video call using Skype is the perfect way to wish them a happy Christmas. You'll need a webcam and if your computer doesn’t already have one, this Microsoft option (with built-in microphone) is a snip at under £30.

2. Wrapping with style

Wrapping up Christmas presents is one of those chores that requires dedication, a lot of sticky tape and a serious amount of mulled wine. If the pile of unwrapped presents fills you with dread, make the experience more interesting by trying out different wrapping techniques. The web is awash with crafting blogs and this Pinterest board brings together all sorts of ideas. Alternatively, you could try the Japanese art of furoshiki, a traditional method of wrapping that uses fabric instead of paper.

3. Saving the pennies 

Invisible Hand helps you save money by popping up a reminder when an item you’re looking at can be found cheaper elsewhere

They should hand out medals to anyone brave enough to face the festive battleground of the high street at Christmas. Shopping online is quicker and easier – and can save you money too. But don't click 'buy' without checking out your potential purchases on a price comparison site, such as Google Shopping, to make sure you're getting the best deal. Or try Invisible Hand, a clever tool that pops up a message when the product you're looking at is available cheaper somewhere else.

4. Unusual gift ideas 

Firebox is an excellent place to start looking for truly unusual gifts

Coming up with quirky gift ideas isn't always easy but it's worth the effort. After all, Uncle Frank probably has enough socks by now. The likes of I Want One Of Those and Firebox are ideal for beginning your search for the unusual, offering everything from Star Wars origami sets to old-fashioned Christmas jumpers. Or, how about using your own photos to make something completely personal? The myPIX service makes it easy to create proper books filled with prints of your own snapshots.

5. Stock up 

The BBC Christmas food site is packed with recipe ideas and cookery tips

Scouring the aisles for cranberry sauce and packets of chestnut stuffing is infinitely easier when the aisles are virtual and the supermarket is online. Head to your virtual grocery store of choice to save yourself the queues and chaos of the Christmas supermarket shop – all you have to do is make sure you’re at home when they deliver. The BBC Christmas food section is also hard to beat when it comes to recipe ideas.

6. Staying safe 

With all this shopping online you need to make sure your PC security is up to scratch. Follow our guide to shopping safely online and take a look at securing your PC to ensure you've got everything locked up tight. For a quickfire checklist, try our 10 ways to make your PC more secure.

7. Sending cards 

Show off your creative side by designing your own Christmas cards on myPIX

If you have Microsoft Word, you can save yourself the boredom of addressing Christmas card envelopes by creating a simple mail merge job. This will store all the names and addresses from your Christmas card list, which you can then print out on sheets of sticky labels – and you can reuse the list year after year. As for the cards themselves, get creative by making your own on myPIX. The Royal Mail has information on posting cards and parcels at Christmas – including last posting dates.

8. Entertainment sorted 

You’ll always find something to watch from among the selection of movies on demand on KNOWHOW MOVIES

The double edition of the Radio Times remains a great Christmas tradition in many homes, even though the online version has even more content and will tell you all you need to know about what's on over the festive season. To make sure you don't miss the Queen's Speech or this year's festive Strictly, use your PC to watch and record TV. Then, take charge of your viewing by lining up some movies on demand from KNOWHOW MOVIES.

9. Christmas snow

Will we wake up to a winter wonderland this year? The Met Office has some interesting articles on exactly what counts as a white Christmas and how many there have been in the last 50 years. Over on The Weather Outlook the white Christmas forecast is updated once a week in the run-up to the day itself.

10. Getting crafty

If you like rolling up your sleeves and creating a homemade Christmas, you'll discover a treasure trove of ideas on the web. The Make has thousands of Christmas-themed items to create, and Pinterest is again a great place for collections of quirky Christmas crafting. The creativity can even extend to your Christmas cards, with Royal Mail offering the option to make your own stamps.